Gift of time in the workplace

scrabble board with words relating to connections, e.g. ideas, people

I have been fortunate to be on a work secondment for one day a week to the Institute for Academic Development (IAD). The secondment started back in October 2014 and it has been a valuable protected time in my diary to focus on sustainable education in the veterinary medical curriculum.

Today is my last day.

As a secondee, I have had the benefit of working with a great group of people with connections to the wider University which are essential for any project to succeed. I also had space away from my desk – in fact in a different campus – ensuring the time was protected.

The value of this time cannot be underestimated. It not only creates space within which to explore a research area or idea in more depth, but also empowers staff to take action in implementing new approaches to teaching and student support.

The Institute’s secondment process contains within it all elements of a socially sustainable (Hammond & Churchman, 2008) community of practice – an interconnected, equitable, diverse and democratic group to support and encourage staff creativity.

This process has enabled me to lay the groundwork in evidencing sustainable education within veterinary medicine (more on that in future posts!). It has also given me confidence to speak about this to others, to share with colleagues and students.

I have a list of projects which would not exist without this thinking time and inspiring connections. Colleagues and I have undertaken projects to enhance learning and teaching at the University. Beyond that, the process improves our wellbeing by demonstrating that the institution values our creative input and seeks to include us in future planning.

Now I step back and release that gift of time for another colleague; looking forward to adding another new inspiring connection!


Hammond, C., & Churchman, D. (2008). Sustaining academic life: A case for applying principles of social sustainability to the academic profession. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9(3), 235-245.

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